Archive for February, 2008

Minted Pea Soup with Ham

This soup is based on a simple recipe for Split Pea and Ham soup. It is one of my favorite soups and always reminds me of when I was a kid. Matt hates peas, though, so it’s one of those dishes I sneak in and make when he’s not around. The addition of baby peas and mint add a splash of bright green and great spring-time flavor. This soup freezes well, but don’t add the peas and mint until it’s ready to be reheated.

Minted Pea Soup with Ham
Ingredients:
4 cups water
1 cup split peas, rinsed and drained
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper, freshly ground
1/4 pound ham steak, trimmed of all visible fat, diced
1 cup frozen baby peas
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

To Make:
Combine water, split peas, onion, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper in a dutch oven. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until split peas are soft (about 45 minutes).
Stir in ham and baby peas. Simmer, covered, another 5 minutes or until peas are tender. Stir in mint just before serving.

Yield:
4 servings

February 19, 2008 at 4:29 am Leave a comment

Dal

Dal is one of the principal foods of the Indian subcontinent where the term can be used to mean either an ingredient or the dish made from it. It can be made with any lentils, although the red cook the quickest, so you will need to increase cooking time accordingly. This is a very simple dish that can be served accompanied by Naan bread or rice. I made my own mixture of garam masala, but you can often find a pre-mixed spice at the supermarket.

Dal
Adapted from “marabout chef – boulgour, quinoa & graines germées, Jody Vassallo”
Ingredients:

1 cup dried red lentils
1 onion, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 ripe tomatoes, crushed
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala*
1/2 tsp. tumeric
2 T. peanut oil
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1 red onion, chopped
10 curry leaves
1 tsp. salt

To Make:
Add 2 cups water in a dutch oven. Add lentils, onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, coconut milk, cumin, coriander, garam masala and tumeric. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer 25 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the fennel seed and mustard seed and cook until the seeds jump. Add the red onion and curry leaves and continue cooking until the onion is soft.
Add to the lentil mixture and cook an additional 5 minutes. Salt to taste and serve warm.

Yield:
4 – 6 servings

February 18, 2008 at 2:59 am Leave a comment

Pan-Seared Chicken with Garlic Sauce

There are some nights when I just don’t have time to cook, but want to make something nice. I almost always have chicken breasts on hand, so it’s become somewhat of a fall-back food. It’s nice that it can be made into basically any dish and can be enhanced with any spices you may have on hand. This dish was made entirely with ingredients I had readily available and came together in minutes and in one dish. I was not expecting much from it, but the garlic sauce proved to be rich and elegant. Enough so, that one could even consider serving this for a special occasion…it’s that good!

Pan-Seared Chicken with Garlic Sauce
Ingredients:
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
12 medium garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 chicken breasts
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 cup chicken broth, divided

To Make:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Sprinkle generously over chicken breasts, covering both sides. Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes on each side. Add garlic cloves to skillet along with 3/4 cup of chicken broth. Place skillet in oven and bake until chicken is done and garlic is soft (approx. 10 – 15 minutes). Remove from oven. Set aside chicken breasts, keeping them warm. Add remaining broth to skillet. Mash garlic cloves with fork and cook over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes, or until heated through. Serve garlic sauce over chicken.

Yield:
2 Servings

February 13, 2008 at 6:08 am Leave a comment

Polenta Bread

I actually don’t eat bread that often, it really doesn’t agree with me. Some days, however, the idea of fresh baked bread is just so appealing, I can’t resist making a loaf to have with dinner. I’ve been thinking about corn bread recently and how good it tastes with a sweet, honey butter. I don’t really like the grainy texture of traditional cornbread, so when I ran across this recipe for polenta bread, I just had to try it. It’s a mix of white flour with a small amount corn meal added in. It’s got a light, crumbly texture with just a hint of the typical corn bread flavor. It has a beautiful soft yellow color, too. It’s a new favorite of mine!

Polenta Bread
Adapted from “marabout chef – pain maison, Cathy Ytak”
Ingredients:

1 cup water
3 cups flour
1/3 cup corn meal
1 egg, beaten
2.5 tsp. instant yeast
1.5 tsp. salt
1 T. olive oil
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

To Make:
Add ingredients according to your bread machine instructions. Settings: Normal or White Bread. Medium color and size.

Yield:
1 Loaf

February 12, 2008 at 6:12 am Leave a comment

Lamb with Red Pepper Tapenade

The actual definition of Tapenade – a thick paste originally from Provence made with capers, olives, anchovies, lemon juice and herbs. The name comes from Tapeno, which means caper. It’s used as a condiment on grilled fish, meat or served with cruditées and toast. Today, the definition is not as straightforward. It can be used to describe any paste involving vegetables, lemon juice and herbs added to fish or meat or served as a spread. I’ve taken liberties with the looser definition in using the term with this dish. It seemed fitting, and anyway, who cares? When it tastes this good, you just can’t worry about the details!

Lamb with Red Pepper Tapenade
Adapted from “Marie Claire Recettes: saveur, Donna Hay”
Ingredients:

6-8 lamb chops
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves (I couldn’t find these in winter, so I left them out)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (or harissa, if you can find it)
2 pitas (for serving)
Tzatziki sauce (for serving)*

To Make:
Remove excess fat from the lamb chops. Mix the pepper, onion, cilantro, crushed red pepper and garlic together. Add lemon juice and olive oil. Stir to combine. Spread tapenade onto both sides of each lamb chop. Broil in oven for 3 – 4 minutes each side.
Serve with tzatziki and pitas.

Yield:
2 Servings

*Tzatziki sauce can be bought or made. I usually make my own since it is so simple. It will keep for 3 -4 days, covered, in the refrigerator.

Tzatziki Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup yogurt (greek style, if available)
1/2 cucumber, peeled and de-seeded
2 T. fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
salt, to taste

To Make:
Mix all ingredients together. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

February 7, 2008 at 1:06 am Leave a comment

Italian Turkey Roulades

I know what you are thinking, turkey doesn’t immediately jump to mind as an Italian specialty. Sometimes when creating a recipe, one needs to improvise with what one has on hand. We were supposed to go out with friends for dinner, but when they had to cancel, we had to come up with something quick and easy. The extra challenge came because, as you know, in Belgium there are no shops open near us on a Sunday evening. So, we had to work with what we had. Normally, it would be best to use chicken or veal for this recipe, but the turkey worked wonderfully and the recipe turned out so well, I had to share.

Italian Turkey Roulades
Ingredients:
4 turkey cutlets, pounded thin (could use chicken or veal)
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pesto sauce
1 bunch arugula (also known as rocket)
4 slices of bacon
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 box cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
fresh shaved parmesan cheese
whole wheat pasta (if desired)

To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lay each turkey cutlet in front of you lengthwise. Top with thin layer of pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese and arugula. Roll away from you keeping everything tightly inside the turkey. Wrap each roll with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Heat olive oil in oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey rolls to pan and brown on all sides (about 10 minutes). Place skillet in oven and cook until turkey is cooked-through (about 15 minutes). Remove turkey rolls from skillet and set aside. Over medium heat, in same skillet, add white wine to deglaze pan scraping up all the browned bits. Stir in garlic, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes until heated through.
Place a serving of pasta on each plate, top with turkey roulades and pour over some of the sauce. Finish with fresh parmesan shavings. Serve.

Yield:
2 Servings

February 5, 2008 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

Gâteau de Ménage

A specialty of the Haut Doubs (Franche-Comté) region of France, the gâteau de ménage (cake of the home) or galette comtoise is a very simple cake that is prepared throughout the year. It has the similar consistency to shortbread with a buttery taste finishing in subtle sweetness and a hint of orange. It is described as a “cake that tastes of Sundays and celebrations.” Who wouldn’t want to try that? It’s not very sweet so makes a nice light finish to the end of a meal. It would also be wonderful served for brunch or taken on a picnic. This cake freezes well if you can’t eat it all at once!

Gâteau de Ménage (Recipe for Bread Machine)
Adapted from “marabout chef – pain maison, Cathy Ytak”
Cake Ingredients:

1 oz. milk + 1 T. rum
1/2 stick (or 5 T.) butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 cups cake flour or pastry flour, sifted
1 tsp. instant yeast

Garniture Ingredients:
1 egg, beaten
1.5 T. heavy whipping cream
2 T. crystallized sugar
1 T. orange peel
1 T. butter, cut into pieces

To Make:
Add all ingredients to bread machine according to directions. Place setting on dough cycle. When cycle is complete, remove dough from machine. Lightly flour a tart mold. Place dough in mold and lightly press to fit. Let rise 30 minutes at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cover the dough with crystallized sugar. Then, in small bowl, whisk together egg, cream, and orange peel. Pour over cake and scatter butter pieces all over surface. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cake is golden brown. Remove from mold and leave to cool on a rack.

Yield:
8 – 10 Servings

February 4, 2008 at 1:17 am Leave a comment

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